by nathan oster
The construction of the new Greybull Middle School appears to be back on track after the School Facilities Commission agreed Thursday to earmark another $472,000 in unanticipated funding for the project.
Supt. Barry Bryant said it’s not a done deal yet, as Gov. Matt Mead must first sign off on it.
If that happens, construction could begin before the end of this month.
By contract, the new construction must be done by July 1, 2015, the GMS Gym remodel by Aug. 15, 2015.
How a delegation from Greybull ended up in front of the SFC last week is a story in itself.
A capacity study done in 2013 found that there was, in fact, a capacity issue at GMS.
A building suitable for housing up to 152 students was needed, the study found.
MOA, the architectural firm that did the capacity study, pitched several alternatives to the district. The most cost-effective one, in the district’s estimation, was a plan to build a new middle school addition to the GMS Gym and reutilize current space being used by the district.
According to the SFD square footage calculator, the district is authorized up to 45,369 square feet. With 16,000 new and 5,037 renovated, the district felt like it had found a cost-effective way of addressing the need.
The Legislature agreed, appropriating $4.693 million for the project during the 2014 session.
Also in the appropriation was an additional $508,393 in contingency/unanticipated funding.
The district ran into a snag when bids came in. Sletten Construction, the low bidder, came in at $4.965 million — which was $790,107 over and above the district’s cost estimate of $4.174 million.
The school district’s argument to the SFC was that the extra costs were mainly due to 1) additional fire sprinkling for the GMS Gym; 2) soils condition discovered by the geotechnical survey; 3) the absence of three-phase power on the site; 4) certain trade subcontractors having a lot of work available, which drove up the price; and 5) a low estimate by MOA during the capacity study for the cost of a remodel.
The district’s solution to the gulf between the low bid and the estimate was to award the bid to Sletten and approve a series of financial steps, including committing $200,000 in district funds ($50,000 from the general fund, $150,000 in 2014 and 2015 major maintenance dollars), moving $68,000 in unallocated planning funds to construction and shifting $100,000 from owner’s equity to construction.
The SFC’s decision to commit the $472,000 in unanticipated funding was the final piece of the puzzle for the district, which can now turn its focus back to the construction and an accelerated timeline which calls for the building to be done by the fall of 2015.
In an email announcing the SFC’s decision, Bryant credited Sen. Ray Peterson and Rep. Elaine Harvey for their support on the project.
As for how the project is going to impact school, Bryant said the construction area will be roped off. All GMS and GHS physical education classes will be held in the Buff Gym, as Mr. Nolan Tracy and Mr. Marty Wrage will share that gym space.
The offices in the GMS Gym will remain.
Bryant said school days won’t need to be modified.
“There will be times when the parking lot in front of the high school will need to be emptied for a couple of weeks (for the storage of steel) … but the main construction staging area is going to be the old pool parking lot area,” he said.